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Trump: U.S. Bears An Unfair Cost Burden For Funding U.N.; Trump, Iran Nuclear Deal An Embarrassment To U.S.; Category 5 Hurricane Maria Barrels Toward Puerto Rico; Sources: Manafort Wiretapped Under Secret Court Orders. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired September 19, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: -- that is Donald Trump because he is guided by outcomes, winning -- not ideology.
REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RETIRED), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Almost seemed like a lecture to himself, at least the first two thirds of it. It seemed almost like he's lecturing himself, almost trying to teach himself at an eighth-grade level about, you know, basic sovereignty multinational issues.
But I agree completely, this was -- this was absolutely very stark, very absent of any of the normal universal values and mutual cooperation that we try to seek in these international bodies.
BORGER: And the language to me was so, you know, outspoken, clear. I mean talking about the regime in North Korea as a band of criminals. I mean that's -- you know, and Iran, a murderous regime he called them.
And this is, you know, this is his so-called principled realism that he talks about. Whether you agree or disagree with him -- and there are a lot of people in that audience that didn't like being lectured to and disagreed with every word he said -- but there was no confusion where he stands, absolutely not.
NIA MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: What does he do now, right? If he, in fact, rips up the Iran agreement --
BORGER: Sounds like it.
HENDERSON: What happens? He talks about it being an embarrassment to the U.S. It's also -- it would also necessarily be an embarrassment, I imagine, to the other nations party to that agreement. I think at some point we will get to see this in practice. What does he actually do to try to keep containing Iran's nuclear program.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Let's get some reaction from two of our CNN political commentators, Brian Fallon and Scott Jennings. Brian Fallon worked for the Obama administration and for the Hillary Clinton campaign, and Scott Jennings, former special assistant to President George W. Bush. Scott, let me start with you. Were there echoes of the axis of evil speech that President Bush spoke about just before the war against Saddam Hussein back in 2003?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. This definitely had shades of that remark and I'm glad to see that because during the campaign, Donald Trump ran as something of an isolationist and if you watched today's speech, he took you on a world tour of American priorities and American engagement.
So, if you were expecting Donald Trump the isolationist, you did not get that today. I think it was a very firm and measured speech today, he spoke in very clear terms. I was proud to see him call out the programs on petfar and malaria that the United States has invested in.
I think he hit all the right notes for his American audience. I think his base will love it. I think a lot of Americans agree with his message on reforming the U.N. and some Gallup polling conducted earlier this year, only 37 percent of Americans felt the U.N. was doing a good job and 60 percent thought it was doing a bad job. So, his calls for reform at the U.N. I think fall on some welcoming ears in the United States.
BLITZER: Brian Fallon, I'm going to play the clip on Iran, on the Iran nuclear deal, that the president just -- he spoke very bluntly about that, seeming to suggest there's going to be a new strategy as far as the U.S. is concerned and as you know by October 15th the U.S. once again must certify whether or not Iran is in compliance with the Iran nuclear deal, which the Obama administration certainly helped work out. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States and I don't think you've heard the last of it. Believe me. It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran's government end its pursuit of death and destruction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Certainly, sounds like he's getting ready to walk away from that Iran nuclear deal. But what was your reaction, Brian?
BRIAN FALLON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Wolf, I thought that was one of many examples of how intellectually confused, if not outright incoherent, the speech was. If you just think about it in one breath he was urging the world to come together and collectively confront the threat of North Korea and in the next breath he is chiding the world over the last time it came together and did rally as an international community to stop a nuclear Iran.
He's also withdrawn from the Paris agreement. He's gone around criticizing the United Nations as a body. So, this is a guy who goes around thumbing his nose at international entities and international attempts to confront global challenges.
And so, what moral standing does he have to call on the world to act collectively against North Korea? If you think about it, he gave a whole tribute in the beginning of the speech to this idea of sovereignty, basically making an agnostic valueless vision for how nations should independently decide their self-interest.
And let that be the predetermining factor and in the next breath he tries to cast the struggle against North Korea in moral terms, good versus evil. So, I thought this was an intellectually confused speech.
It was a strained attempt to square his America first doctrine from the campaign, with the reality of the global challenges that the United States faces.
[11:05:03] You can't decouple America's leadership role in the world from the democratic values that we stand for and that have sort of provided the undergirding for the post-World War II era, democratic era around the globe.
I think it will prompt probably a bunch of eye rolling if not literally then metaphorically from other leaders of these other allied nations that he's gone around criticizing during the campaign and since.
BLITZER: I want to bring Christiane Amanpour into this conversation as well. Christiane, you just had a chance to sit down and interview the president of France, Emmanuel Macron. I wonder if you were watching that speech with him and got his reaction?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, I'm sitting here at the French Mission to the United Nations. It is incredible that as I was speaking and wrapping up that interview and had already spoken and really sort of plumed the depths of Mr. Macron's views on the Iran deal we heard what President Trump had said and I put it directly to President Macron.
That this was the worst deal in history, an embarrassment and we'll see what will happen. Mr. Macron was very polite and very considered, but very clear in that he believes and so do all the other international signatories to the Iran nuclear deal, that this is the best deal that can be accomplished right now.
And getting rid of it, particularly in the context of the fact that North Korea is actually now a nuclear power with the very imminent possibility of having intercontinental ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads on them that could reach American territory and certainly many parts of the world.
He said it is not time to ditch the Iran nuclear deal and he is going to try to convince President Trump when he sees him again, he's already talked to him as he did last night, when he sees him again around the U.N. right now and in the next couple days, not to ditch this deal because it is the best that they have right now. He agrees with President Trump on other issues regarding Iran, that there must be more and better monitoring and bringing into line Iran's ballistic missile program, that there must be a concerted effort to stop or to put the brakes on Iran's what they call negative malign influence in the region whether it's in Syria or whether it's in Iraq or Yemen, whether it's in that part of the world.
So, on many things they agree but not on ditching this deal because he said it would make it worse. When I asked him about North Korea and you heard what President Trump said about North Korea, calling Kim Jong-un rocket man, saying that he was on a suicide mission, he again said, we all condemn what Kim Jong-un is doing.
But a military solution is not the solution. He said just look at the map. There would be tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of casualties should some kind of war break out in the region and elsewhere.
So, again, Macron wants to try to work with President Trump and the rest of the world leaders here to enforce the sanctions, to be as tough as possible on North Korea, but this must be a diplomatic and economic pressure, he said, and not a military solution, not at all.
BLITZER: Christian is going to have much more on her interview with President Macron coming up later on her program on CNN international. Christian, stand by.
Jeff Zeleny, you're over at the United Nations. The speech, I sense and you may have a better appreciation of this than I did, got sort of polite applause from the international delegations, but certainly not enthusiastic applause.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, certainly that is true. Polite applause in a couple areas, but not much applause throughout the course of the 41-minute speech. Perhaps not surprisingly, it's difficult to align that parts of the world are going to hell.
This was a very somber speech if you will, Wolf, and I remember thinking back to the first appearance that President Obama made here in 2009, as president, of course a far different reception. Of course, he had a booming enthusiastic applause.
The world views these two leaders differently, no question, but, Wolf, as we sort of process and tick through other elements of the speech, I do think one headline as well is refugees.
He talked specifically about that and he said for the cost of resettling one refugee in the U.S. we can assist more than ten in their home region. So, again, that is his view. The nationalist view of the Trump side of the White House there, really speaking out against what many in his base, many evangelicals actually support refugee resettlement.
So, that is another issue we would be talking about a lot more, but not for North Korea and Iran. But on Iran, we are expecting this administration to reveal something about their strategy in October. They have to, of course, they have one more deadline.
But Wolf, I think it's important to put in perspective. We heard candidate Trump talk again and again about ripping up the Iran nuclear agreement. He has found that it's much more difficult in office as he suggested on the campaign trail.
[11:10:01] So, despite his tough rhetoric here and, indeed, there was tough rhetoric he suggested now might be the time to pull out of what he called a one-sided agreement. We still have to wait and see if he actually goes through with that and does that -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. He also really went after Iran for supporting what he called radical Islamic terror organizations. He specifically cited ISIS, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban, among others.
There's a lot more to unpack, a lot more to assess. We're going to take a quick break. Kate Bolduan is standing by. She's going to resume our special coverage right after this.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. We are following breaking news on the monster storm barreling through the Caribbean and headed right for Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria, the storm that has already delivered a direct hit on the island of Dominica as a Category 5.
[11:15:07] Now a brand-new update has just been put out by the National Hurricane Center and what it means for U.S. territories. CNN meteorologist, Chad Myers with the new forecast. So, Chad, what are we seeing right now?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The hurricane center just put out the 11:00 advisory, just minutes ago, and we are still at 160 miles per hour and the storm is still moving towards St. Croix and Puerto Rico.
The U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands all still in the cone, so is Puerto Rico. The entire country, the entire territory, absolutely under the control of this Category 4, maybe Category 5 storm.
Here's Puerto Rico, 3.5 million Americans live here. Here it comes right along the shore. Making landfall if the center of the cone is correct because the cone is getting smaller now, near Palmos Delmar.
This is the area that will see the hardest wind damage, across the area as well, there is a national forest there. It is a rain forest. That will be damaged, but certainly not going to hit the populated area, let's say, if San Juan was on the southeast coast.
San Juan is on the north coast. San Juan is still going to have wind of 130 to 140 miles per hour. There will be weeks without power and may be weeks without water. This area, this territory, is certainly very much in danger of a life-threatening storm surge, a storm wind, and, of course, flooding with it. Fifteen inches of rainfall possible across parts of Puerto Rico will make mudslides and really more flash flooding because it is a very well-forested area. So, this island is so forested we're not going to see the potential mudslides like we see in Haiti where the deforestation has taken over so many of the land areas that mud comes down rather than water coming down.
There is the storm right now, 160 miles per hour. We still have gusts to around 190. Hurricane hunters are in the plane, are in the storm right now in their plane and they just found a 188-mile-per-hour wind gust about 700 feet off the ground.
So, not the surface but 800 feet, 700 feet and that certainly some spots in the Caribbean are well above that. There are spots in the D.R. that are, you know, 12,000, 10,000 feet high. So, the higher you go in a hurricane, the more the wind is, and there are plenty of spots there that are higher than sea level -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: When it comes to places like Puerto Rico, I mean, you know, of course everyone is looking back in their hurricane history, but it's been something like more than over 80 years since a Cat 4 or Cat 5 has hit Puerto Rico. We don't even know what could happen.
MYERS: No. In 1932 was the last Cat 4, 1928 was the last Cat 5. So much has happened from where there were 1.4 million people, now above 3.5 million people. The infrastructure and wires put up, the homes built, people living along the shore.
It's a beautiful coast, why would you not want to live along the coast, that's the issue we're having now, where do we put these people, how do they get out of the way, but so many of these coastal homes and communities are not safe at this point.
If you're talking about a 10-foot storm surge, it is very, very important before nightfall to get into a safe place. No way to move tomorrow morning.
BOLDUAN: Category 5 is the latest update coming from the National Hurricane Center. Chad Myers is tracking all of it minute by minute. Thank you so much, Chad.
So, with Puerto Rico's 3.5 million people now in the crosshairs of Hurricane Maria the governor there has declared a state of emergency, of course, but he also says that he is worried people aren't listening to these warnings. Listen here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOVERNOR RICARDO ROSSELLO, PUERTO RICO: Complacency worries me the most. Some people might think -- might not really understand the magnitude of this hurricane or might think that it won't hit us as hard and all indications are that this is going to be devastating and catastrophic. This is going to be a very dangerous time and we want to make sure right now is recognize that infrastructure is going to be broken, but we need to focus on saving lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: That's absolutely right. All right. Let's go there right now as Maria is heading that direction. CNN's Nick Valencia is in San Juan with much more. So, Nick, what are you hearing from folks there?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Frantic last-minute preps are under way right now as people prepare for the worst of the storm to come. There's a lot of anxiety here, Kate, among the residents, emotionally they've been through so much.
You see some of the sandbags at the hotel here has put up. Check out how dark the clouds are now starting to get out there. It was about two hours ago we saw a rain wall form out there in the ocean. Things have been slowly increasing, though. That wind has been sustained.
I'll show you around the hotel where we're at. We've been kicked off the beach because people are preparing for the worst. The governor giving a dire last-minute warning saying it's time to act right now. If you can get out, if you can evacuate, the time to act is now.
The last-minute flights are under way. Airports here close at 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. respectively so if you can afford it there is still time to catch last-minute flights. I mentioned the anxiety among residents.
[11:20:10] You have a territory here that still people here have no power. It's still noticeably damaged. You see roofs that are still damaged. You see people that are still struggling with the cleanup efforts.
Here we are about a week later after Hurricane Irma came through here and didn't give a direct hit to this island territory and now residents in this island territory are staring down at something that is expected to be much, much worse -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Yes. It must be exhausting all the warnings coming out. No direct hit the last time, but this one is much more serious it seems for Puerto Rico. Nick there is. Thank you so much for following this throughout the day.
We also have a CNN exclusive we will bring to you in just a moment. CNN has learned that U.S. government wiretapped President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. This is before and after the 2016 election.
What does this mean for the Russia investigation, what does this mean for Paul Manafort and what does this mean for the president? That exclusive is ahead.
Plus, a Hail Mary of all Hail Marys we will call it when it comes to health care with this last-ditch effort, will this last-ditch effort to overhaul Obamacare get through or will it hit the very same wall all of the other past efforts have? Where are the votes right now? That's coming up.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [11:25:29]
BOLDUAN: Now a CNN exclusive, the U.S. government wiretapped the former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. Sources are telling CNN. That surveillance according to sources took place before and after the election, as Manafort emerged as a central figure in the Russian election meddling investigation.
Now let's go to Shimon Prokupecz. He's part of the CNN team who broke the story along with CNN's Evan Perez and Pamela Brown. So, Shimon, lay it out for us. What exactly have you learned?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: All right. So, sources tell us, Kate, that the FBI got permission from the surveillance court to monitor Paul Manafort before and after the election.
This is an extraordinary step for the FBI to do such surveillance of a high-ranking campaign official and, of course, Manafort is now at the center of the Russian meddling probe. We're told there are intercepted communications that raise concerns about whether Manafort was encouraging Russians to help the campaign.
Other sources have told us that this intelligence was not conclusive. As you know Special Counsel Bob Mueller who's looking into this has been provided all these communications.
BOLDUAN: So, what exactly do we mean by encouraging?
PROKUPECZ: We're told that the FBI has communications, right, that these are talks between suspected Russian operatives, relaying what they claimed were discussions with Manafort, as well as communications involving Manafort himself. None of this has amounted to what people consider a smoking gun in this investigation.
There's still more work being done to determine whether there's a criminal violation here. Manafort has previously denied he ever knowingly communicated with Russian intelligence during the election, and he's also denied helping Russians undermine U.S. interests -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: From your reporting we know that he was under surveillance and then a period he was not and then he was back under surveillance. Do we know whether or not President Trump spoke to Manafort while he was under surveillance?
PROKUPECZ: So what we've been told by sources is that the time period under which Manafort was under surveillance we're still talking early this year well after the campaign, and we've learned from sources that Manafort was talking to the president, that he and the president were communicating during that time. So, it is possible that those conversations were collected.
BOLDUAN: "The New York Times," Shimon, flushes out some other details on the search and kind of what is followed. Tell us about that. PROKUPECZ: Yes. "The New York Times" yesterday afternoon in its report said -- gave some interesting details about how the raid, the search took place inside Manafort's home in Virginia, which happened over the summer.
You know, they describe how FBI agents who entered the home, picked the lock, in some raids sometimes they bust through the door, in this situation they picked the lock, they went through the house, Manafort was sleeping, he was woken up, they searched him, and then they searched his home.
They took photos of various suits, expensive suits is what the "Times" says, they then took some materials in binder and copied some information on his computer, and most interestingly, probably, is that, you know, the "Times" says that Bob Mueller's team, the special counsel's team, told him that he should be expected -- he should expect an indictment.
BOLDUAN: All right. Shimon a lot in there, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.
So, joining me now, Jeffrey Toobin is here, a former federal prosecutor and CNN senior legal analyst. All right. So, Jeffrey, it's not every day, I think it's important to point out with all the details we have here, not every day that the former campaign chairman of a president is under federal surveillance and federal investigation.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It's -- the only one I can think of was John Mitchell who was President Nixon's campaign manager who ultimately went to prison in Watergate.
BOLDUAN: He was -- he was being wiretapped. He was being listened to. He was under surveillance for a period of time that was before and after the election. How serious is this?
TOOBIN: It's really serious and it's worth remembering, you know, the FBI can't just wiretap anyone they want. They have to go to a judge and they have to present evidence that this person is a -- there is probable cause to believe that this person is involved somehow in counter intelligence, in aiding foreign intelligence services.
That doesn't prove that they are, but it certainly suggests that the FBI had more than a hunch and they did it twice. So, on two occasions they had enough evidence to persuade a judge to approve this kind of wiretap.
BOLDUAN: As you heard, I was asking Shimon about some of the reporting, some of the intelligence suggested that it appeared that Manafort was encouraging --